French Wines: La Pialade 2007

Posted in wine of the month

La Pialade 2007
Retail price: $32–$40
Available at Linwood Wine & Liquor, in New Jersey, and Vintage Wine Merchants, in California

As much as I am a fan of French wines, I’m also a passionate French fashionista. As we in the wine world began stomping our grapes for the 2013 harvest, models were concurrently stomping down the runways of Paris as the City of Light closed out the Fashion Week circuit.

French wines: La Pialade 2008

The Paris-based American designer Rick Owens took “stomping” literally, using four different US collegiate step-dance troupes as models for his show. And these were not your typical stone-faced waifs who could be felled by one sip of Pinot. These were Women with a capital W—muscular, scowling, stamping percussively in time to the music, and celebrating strength in femininity. What’s the French phrase for “in your face?”

This month’s wine, La Pialade, from the Côtes du Rhône, is similar in its contrast of power and elegance, savory and sweet. A blend of grenache, cinsault and Syrah, the wine has quite a pedigree: the grapes come from the vineyards of Château Rayas, one of the most esteemed domaines in the southern Rhône, famous for its 100 percent grenache wine of the same name. But while Château Rayas may set you back 450 euros, La Pialade is a wine for the people, produced only after the wines for Château Rayas and its sister domaine, La Fonsalette, have been finalized.

And yet La Pialade is no hand-me-down afterthought. It is a remarkable wine, a study in dichotomy: quaffable, yet complex. Feeling sweet? You’ll love the strawberry notes that fairly leap out of your wine glass. Feeling spicy? Bonjour, white pepper. Need something that will hold its own against a juicy roast chicken or pork loin and yet not overpower the entrée? Call on La Pialade for its structure and fruitiness, its tartness that will cut through a buttery sauce and its earthiness that will only add to the herbs and/or olives in your main dish.

When interviewed after his spring 2014 runway show, Rick Owens said that he was inspired to make his collection “as accessible as possible to everybody instead of creating an exclusive fashion world.” Was he successful? Critics may say oui, but only sales will prove whether it’s prêt-à porter from a commercial standpoint. When it comes to wine, however, La Pialade has managed to combine the contrasts: strength with femininity, power with elegance, approachability with complexity, sweetness with spice. Sounds like you and me, mes amies formidables, and I’ll drink to that!

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